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Op-Ed: Classless

Suffolk University is responsible for a pretty unabashed advertising campaign that distinguishes its students by mocking privilege. Here’s why their efforts are regrettable.

The ad I saw this morning on the Orange Line is brandished “Suffolk students rely on their will to succeed, not their father’s will.” Geez, sorry Dad. Pictured is a young woman who is the personification of a Buzzfeed listicle and definitely has a credit card saved for emergencies, courtesy of her parents. That’s fine, but the ad’s major flaw appears next, when Suffolk elaborates. It says “Real success is earned, not inherited.”

Hold on a second. How do people rightly earn quantifying success? Better, what’s out there for “opportunity”, that villainously ambiguous term guaranteed to elude a distressing percentage of the nation?

While we’re on the subject of disparity, I think it’s important to note that charity designed to help people is a big deal! Financial aid, food stamps – these things aren’t meant for malevolent purposes but to safeguard life. In spite of tireless complaints about so-called handouts awarded to men, women and children (in need) against all obvious rationale many can find, all over the world do people continue to help one another.

Your reblogs are thoughtful and your Facebook statuses are too long, in the best way. Don’t stop. Don’t stop there. Where do you start?

Every fall at Emmanuel near Thanksgiving time, the group ECCO hosts a well-intended Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week on campus. They kick off each day with the symbolic debut of a previously inconceivable urban failure. Where they get it wrong is not in the myriad of events they sponsor but in the context of their own promotion, in similar fashion as Suffolk’s PR department. On the quad, they take valuable information cut from an admittedly large swath of suffering and illustrate their Google search results in sharpie on weathered pieces of cardboard. ECCO goes for that authentic look, to the same effect as the galleries of stuff curated on walls in a TGI Friday’s.

Charming.

They hang these signs from trees or lay them in mulch beds around the campus exterior, and then they nest the remaining area with trash and an occasional shopping cart. This is awareness? Is this the depth of our thinking about homelessness? Students and faculty in a hurry will unavoidably acknowledge this brief display as much as one typically does in passing an actual homeless person. This is a start, but it’s downright cruel.

It’s ambitious in scope; I’ll give them that. But for their part and Suffolk’s too, any disassociation made between people in the name of class is highly incorrigible, and we shouldn’t do it anymore.

Emmanuel students, faculty and whole departments are committed to those in need; have been since the school’s founding. This is not a protest of neglect. Inequality is a difficult and complicated issue but there are better ways we can fix it. It’s perfectly fine to admit that as undergrads and as a larger Boston community, we don’t understand.

Paul Rowley ’16 is a staff writer and columnist for The Hub. Follow him on Twitter @almanacalism.

Posted by on September 24, 2014. Filed under Clubs & Organizations,Opinions & Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.